Foreign and Expatriates Minister Riyad al-Malki today stressed the need to empower the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees to sustain its services to Palestinian refugees.
Speaking in a meeting with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Ramallah, al-Malki reiterated his call for the international community to provide financial aid to the agency, so that it would be able to continue to provide, and even improve, its services to refugees in the occupied territories and in the diaspora, especially during these difficult times in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Highlighting Israeli and US attempts to eliminate the agency to make Palestinian refugees disappear, the top diplomat reviewed the Palestinian leadership’s efforts to mobilize financial support for the agency, expressed concerns over the UNRWA-run schools in the occupied city of Jerusalem, and emphasized the need for the continued operation of the schools.
Lazzarini affirmed the agency’s commitment to sustain its services to Palestinian refugees despite the financial crisis gripping it and urged international donors to provide funding for it.
Al-Malki and Lazzarini agreed to pursue joint efforts and encourage states to effectively participate in the donor countries’ meeting in June.
The US administration has cut funding to the agency in retaliation of the Palestinian leadership’s objections to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In the besieged Gaza Strip alone, every two in three Palestinians is a refugee from lands inside what is now Israel. One million Palestinians – half the population there – rely on UNRWA emergency rations, a number that has soared from just 80,000 in 2000 after years of Israeli siege and military assaults.
Israel has long targeted the agency, politically and literally: during its assaults on Gaza, Israel has repeatedly bombed UNRWA schools and facilities, killing dozens.
Israel refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to exercise their right to return as enshrined in international law solely because they are not Jews and therefore views them as a “demographic threat” to its continued existence as a Jewish supremacist state that denies equal rights to all its residents.